Jan 302010

Propriety is something very important within the Jehovah’s Witness culture and worship as it should be. But, the Witnesses take it to a whole new level. Many things that are part of Christian worship in other churches are viewed by Jehovah’s Witnesses as inappropriate and are noticeably absent at the Kingdom Halls of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Among these things that you will not see at Kingdom Halls are live musicians: no organists, no pianists and certainly no guitarists or drummers. Years ago, live pianists were at least an option. My wife used to play the piano at our Kingdom Hall and for the circuit assemblies. On a few occasions we even had a small orchestra at our circuit assembly. For congregations without a pianist, records and later cassette tapes and CD’s were available. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, there seemed to be a concerted effort by the circuit overseers to remove pianos and pianists from the Kingdom Halls and to utilize the recordings that were supplied by the Watchtower Society.

Several reasons were given for removing the pianos and pianists. First was that in some congregations the quality of the piano or that of the pianist was not up the standard that would be honoring to Jehovah. Second was that using the Society’s recordings contributed to unity within the organization. Finally, it was said that having live music might draw undue attention to the musician rather than to Jehovah. Today, all of the music for Jehovah’s Witness meetings are recordings that are supplied by the Watchtower Society. Along with the music, the content for the meetings is also supplied by headquarters as are the song numbers that are to accompany that content.

During the singing at the Kingdom Hall, you will also see no raising of hands or other expressions of worship that are seen in many churches. There are also no spontaneous expressions of agreement during the sermon, which is referred to as the “public talk” or “public discourse”. The only  “amen” you will normally hear at the Kingdom hall is at the end of the prayers that are said at the beginning and end of each meeting. Raising of hand in worship and saying “amen” during the public talk would be viewed as  inappropriate by the Witnesses.

As I see it now, what is called worship at the Kingdom Hall is very restrained, mostly devoid of emotion, and dry and dead.

  5 Responses to “Inappropriate Behavior”

  1. Why can’t they attend a Catholic funeral?

  2. Hi Bill,

    Whether or not they attend is officially a “conscience matter”. I know some JWs who would go to a relative’s funeral in a church and others would not. It depends on how hard-core they want to be, or at least appear.

  3. Bob,
    Love your new website. You did the right thing adapting the old material to a new WordPress format. It looks great and the theme you chose works very well to display your information.

    I totally agree with your comments in the article above. Every Watchtower study is like going to a very dull night school class. Listen to the questions, answer the questions exactly as presented in the magazine (do not vary your answer from the material in any way), read the paragraph.
    Next paragraph; repeat.
    Next paragraph; repeat.

    As a child, I had to sit through a couple hundred of these Watchtower studies and another couple hundred Tuesday night book studies. Try staying awake through the dull recitations of the paragraphs and the supporting scriptures (if any were ever really read during the meetings). There was no fun, excitement or love shown during any of those meetings. Boring, dull, uninteresting, and sleep inducing. Wow – a perfect storm!

    Bottom line: I love your site and am happy to have linked to it. You’ve put a lot of work into it. I, for one, appreciate your efforts.

  4. A lifelong musician, I was originally asked by the honored couple to be their guest, and play at their anniversary party, then I was asked not to play by the elders, as the elders thought it better if we did “Karoke”……music is not appreciated by many people at any function of any kind, and the musicians themselves are even frowned upon more…I really enjoyed telling the congregation (in reply to a question about David’s instructions to the builders of the temple). “Imagine that, 24,000 supervisors, and 4,000 musicians on stringed instruments, I hope I get to play music to the labor of the stone layers!” I thought it was funny…but you KNOW, if you are different, nothing YOU say is funny….just that one elder that everyone laughs with when HE makes a funny…even the same on over, and over….I am so glad to be where life is. Thank you for putting this website together…it is good.